Sun 23 Jul 2023

Majestic Mikkelsen bags WRC2 Estonia crown

Andreas Mikkelsen’s WRC2 title bid was given a major boost on Sunday when the Norwegian driver won the category at Rally Estonia.

Mikkelsen, champion of the series back in 2021, seized the lead in the premier support category on Friday when early pacesetter Oliver Solberg retired his car with suspension damage.

The 34-year-old remained in control from that moment on and could afford to manage his risk level on the superfast gravel stages despite Flying Finn Sami Pajari mounting a late charge in his similar Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.

Pajari outpaced Mikkelsen on all four of Sunday’s special stages but his surge came too little too late with Mikkelsen taking the spoils by 9.7sec, marking his second victory in as many FIA World Rally Championship starts.

"We took the clever approach this weekend," said Mikkelsen, who climbed to second in the overall championship standings. "Oliver had great pace on day one and he was maybe a bit over the limit, but we had a constant speed. After he went off we just tried to maintain the gap as good as possible. On the Power Stage you always want to go flat-out but we were holding back a little bit because the 25 points is so crucial."

More than a minute back from the frontrunning duo were Emil Lindholm and co-driver Reeta Hämälainen, who completed the podium on their Hyundai i20 N debut. They enjoyed a relatively smooth run barring a brush with a tree stump in SS1 followed by an intermittent power steering issue on Friday afternoon.

Marco Bulacia was a distant fourth in his Fabia, an impressive result considering the Bolivian rolled the car during Thursday’s shakedown. He headed fifth-placed Miko Marczyk by 19.4 sec after the Škoda man leapfrogged Robert Virves in SS19 to claim the position.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM